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Zelig (1983)

Woody Allen , John Buckwalter , Woody Allen  |  PG |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.98
Price: $8.75 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Zelig + Play It Again, Sam + Annie Hall
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Product Details

  • Actors: Woody Allen, John Buckwalter, Mia Farrow
  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H. Joffe
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2001
  • Run Time: 79 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O06N
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,576 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Zelig" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Mr. Personality? Or Mr. Personality disorder? Find out in Woody Allen's madcap mockumentary about an identity crisis of hilarious proportions! Thematically intricate, technically complex and filled with some of the most astonishing special effects ever, Zelig is "pure magic" (Newsweek)! Nominated* for two OscarsÂ(r), this "work of breathtaking virtuosity" (Playboy) isfurther proof that Allen "is the premier American filmmaker of his day" (The New York Times)! Leonard Zelig (Allen) is a social quick-change artist whose neurotic insecurity forces him to mimicmentally and physicallywhomever he's with. Treated by Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Farrow), Zelig is slowly cured, and in the process goes from side-show freak to national celebrity to Eudoras fiancÃ(c)! But when misdeeds from Zelig's multiple-personality past start to surface (larceny, bigamy and an unauthorized appendectomy), the human chameleon is on the run again, and Eudora must search the world over to find and save the only man who's every man she's ever wanted!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Your pancakes... Your pancakes are terrible..." January 29, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film is perhaps the ultimate in parody-documentary. Some people might find the pace a bit slow, and the humor a bit dry, precisely because it is presented exactly as it would be if it were an actual serious documentary about a real historical personage. It requires a bit more thought and attention on the part of the vewer than does a "conventional" comedy for that reason. At one point the narrator, in his best, serious, Public Television Documentary National Geographic Special voice, describes Zelig's parents and their violent domestic squabbles: "...Even though they lived over a bowling alley, it was the bowling alley that complained about the noise." This sort of thing could go right past you if you weren't really listening.

The reason this film works is that all of the supporting details are meticulous and perfect. All of the 1920's songs about Zelig (such as "The Chameleon Dance" and "You May Be Six People, But I Love You") are written and performed so perfectly in period style that I, watching it the first few times, could hardly believe that they were not actual, real (but obscure) 1920's songs that they found somewhere which happened to fit the movie theme, rather than being modern parodies of vintage recordings. (Speaking as a musician, I can vouch for the fact that that bright, Irish popular tenor sound which was all the rage back then is a rarity these days!)

And all of the film clips are just as carefully executed. I seem to remember, back when this film was just out, an article describing how Allen's production staff took just-shot black and white footage into the parking lot and threw it on the ground and walked all over it, and carefully crinkled the film, so that it would look worn and decades-old.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Truly Innovative Film from Woody Allen December 29, 2005
Format:DVD
I had seen bits and pieces of Woody Allen's "Zelig" before but I had never seen the whole movie until last night. To be honest, my initial reaction was to wonder if I would be able to maintain interest throughout the whole movie. As it turned out, that was no problem.

"Zelig" tells the story of an individual who developed an unexplainable ability to appear like the people of his surroundings. It is presented in a documentary format and that format is amazingly well done. I'm of the opinion that there was plenty of actual newsreel footage from the 1920's and '30's and there was also plenty of new film made to appear that it was from that era. I was never that certain as to which was which because the cinematography was that well done. The retrospective interviews with present day theorists and aged contemporaries butressed the documentary nature of the film (as did the continuous narration).

As the title character (played by Woody Allen) assumes more and more identities, we come to understand that his efforts to be like others leaves him with no identity of his own. I understood Allen's message to be an expression of his frustration with the negative public reaction to his post-"Annie Hall" movies. He wasn't making the kinds of pictures everyone else was and his uniqueness was being dismissed. I saw him making a statement that banality lacks meaning by satirizing someone who went out of his way to avoid being himself. Maybe Allen had a higher purpose in making "Zelig" but I was comfortable with the message I got out of it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Allen's Brillant Mockumentary November 18, 2001
Format:DVD
Zelig, the Woody Allen film that time almost forgot, is one of his 10 best. The story is well explained by other reviewers. Nevertheless, the DVD (without any extras except a fascinating trailer) is superior. The grainy film stock and sound are excellent. The movie is a timely today as it was in 1983. A fascinating film from a variety of perspectives. It was a painstaking labor of love that really addresses the need for love, assimilation, and life in the 1920s or 30s. A superior film, well worth the 15 bucks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Can't Believe This Movie Isn't Better Known! November 8, 2001
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Well, maybe I can...there's no gratuitous sex or violence, no gen-x messages about the failure of the modern American family, no explosions, car crashes, guns, or bad language.
Just intelligence, and a lot of wit.
This picture really reminds me a lot of the newsreel sequence in "Citizen Kane," and it's done just as well. The characters are also incredibly sympathetic...I fall in love with Mia Farrow every time I see this. The chemistry between Allen and Farrow, at least in this movie, rivals that between Hepburn and Tracy as far as I'm concerned.
One disappointing thing about the DVD is the lack of special features...I'd have loved a commentary by Allen, at least. But then again, it only cost [dollar amount].
I'm absolutely shocked that only 10 other people have reviewed this movie, seeing as how it is possibly the greatest film Woody Allen, a comic genius, ever made.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great film from a great filmmaker April 30, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This film is amazingly funny and original: as a man who changes his personality (and his looks) when he is in presence of strangers, Woody Allen has created a story that is toll like a documentary from the golden age of the '20s, and this caracter goes to know to Scott Fitzgerald and Fanny Bruce, among others celebrities, long before (and funnier) than Forrest Gump did in his overrated film. Definitely one of Allen's best.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie
Not a big woody allen fan but you got to love this. PBS played it and I thought it was a Documentry. It's that believable. Could not wait for it to come out in DVD.
Published 11 days ago by Duane Snyder
4.0 out of 5 stars Allen Classic
You can never go wrong with a bit of Woody Allen. This was a great story of a man reinventing himself over and over.
Published 1 month ago by Rowan Members
5.0 out of 5 stars Woody's imagination gone wild
The technical superimposition and Woody's own brand of imagination make this a swell spoof on psychiatry, sociology and a history of the times. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Joseph Borkson
5.0 out of 5 stars Zelig get's around
This movie is Region 2 and must be played on that type payer.
Zelig is the story of one man's life ortrayed by Woody Allen. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Classic Collecter
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Picture Quality...
Purchasing Zelig, I recalled that when I saw this Woody Allen film originally in the theater the picture was "dark" but the story was unique and enjoyable... Read more
Published 2 months ago by hdz79
5.0 out of 5 stars Cannot Give Woody Less Than Five Stars!
This movie, was not my cup of tea, and the documentary-style of filming
was annoying, but I am glad to have seen it once, before passing it on to others. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Father Time
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, funny movie!
I really enjoy Woody Allen's humor, and Zelig is the apotheosis of his movie making career. Enjoyment was had by all!
Published 3 months ago by Jeffrey Leister
3.0 out of 5 stars Zelig Woody Allen
Not as good as I remember it. This is not one of Woody's best. May be best if one is a Woody fan.
Published 3 months ago by anne caggiano
5.0 out of 5 stars ALLEN'S BEST MOVIE
This film is often described as a mock documentary but it is really a parody of human nature, American culture, and especially celebrity culture. Read more
Published 4 months ago by The Curmudgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars Among Woody Allen's best...
The humor, ingenuity and recreation of the past in Zelig would be enough to recommend it, but it's the theme of overarching conformity which really makes this film outstanding --... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MightySchwa
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